British Regulators Block Microsoft’s $69B Activision Takeover
In 2019, American tech giant Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) reached a deal to acquire Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI), a leading video game…
In 2019, American tech giant Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) reached a deal to acquire Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI), a leading video game publisher, for $69bn in cash. That price marked the biggest proposed acquisition in the modern gaming industry. However, it’s looking uncertain due to regulatory pushback.
Britain’s antitrust agency, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), has announced that it won’t approve Microsoft’s Activision takeover. The agency cited the U.K.’s cloud gaming market as the rationale for blocking the acquisition; it claims Microsoft owning Activision will make it dominant and stifle competition in the market.
- Cloud gaming refers to playing video games on remote servers, which run the game and stream it over the web to the player’s device. It is heralded as the gaming industry’s future.
Microsoft owns Xbox, a popular gaming console that has sold tens of millions of units. Xbox offers a cloud gaming service that gives users access to a library of games for a monthly or annual fee. Owning Activision will give Microsoft control over popular gaming titles such as Call of Duty, Warcraft, Diablo, and Overwatch, which it can hypothetically make exclusive to Xbox consoles and its cloud gaming service.
Microsoft offered remedies to the CMA’s concerns of making Activision games exclusive, including stating the games it’ll offer on other platforms under specific conditions over a ten-year period. However, the agency says the remedies weren’t enough and did not cover cloud gaming services sufficiently.
- Microsoft was already subject to a lawsuit from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) seeking to block its Activision takeover. Another legal obstruction from the U.K. government puts the deal in jeopardy. Meanwhile, regulators representing the European Union (EU) are still investigating.
- Microsoft is free to appeal the U.K. regulators’ decision and has said it will. “We remain fully committed to our acquisition and will appeal,” President Brad Smith said in a statement.
“Alongside Microsoft, we can and will contest this decision, and we’ve already begun the work to appeal to the UK Competition Appeals Tribunal,” Activision said in a separate statement.
Activision’s shares fell 10% on Wednesday following the CMA’s statement.